When civil rights groups forced the government to release information on how federal law enforcement agencies monitor the scary collective of black bogeyman activists classified as “black identity extremists,” the groups noticed a repeated reference to one specific document.
Although it is top secret, the government has confirmed its existence. We know it is nine pages long. We even know the name of the document. Yet no one knows what it says, who wrote it or what it is about.
It is called the “Race Paper.”
In 2016, two civil rights groups—the Color of Change and the Center for Constitutional Rights—along with the Kramer Law Center, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents concerning the FBI’s surveillance of groups related to Black Lives Matter.
In response, the government released a trove of documents including emails, reports and memos showing that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have been tracking the activities of people involved with Black Lives Matter since the Ferguson, Mo., uprisings, even issuing memos on the nonexistent danger of “Black Supremacists” to local and state authorities.
The documents revealed how federal agents shaped the narrative to create a new class of terrorists called “black identity extremists.” The FBI talked about a “history of violent incidents” (pdf). The Department of Homeland Security sent a memo to officers across the country warning about a black “day of rage” that never happened. One bulletin (pdf) even mentioned that black activists posed a threat to “lawfully organized white supremacist events.”
Included in the files obtained by COR and CCR were several emails between employees of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence Analysis. In several of those email chains (pdf)—all discussing the investigations of black organizations—the officials mentioned something called the Race Paper. The correspondence contained attachments with drafts of the document asking for feedback, suggestions on structure and in-person meetings.
To be fair, DHS actually included the mysterious Race Paper in the documents received by Color of Change and the Center for Constitutional Rights, but the copy was redacted. I’m sure you’re thinking, “But they have to leave out names and identities,” which is true. But the Department of Homeland Security redacted every single word. There are no dates, no names—not even punctuation. DHS essentially sent the civil rights groups nine pages of black paper (pdf).
If you’re wondering how many “black identity extremists” have been captured since the federal government began monitoring these dangerous Negro radicals, the answer lies in the case of Christopher Daniels, who many believe was the first and only person to be arrested using the FBI’s BIE mandate.
Known as Rakem Balogun, Daniels was arrested on Dec. 12, 2017, when federal agents stormed into his home. According to Foreign Policy, the feds seized two firearms and a book—Negroes With Guns. At Daniels’ detention hearing, FBI Special Agent Aaron Keighley said Daniels came across the FBI’s radar when they noticed him in the coverage of a police brutality protest on the conspiracy website InfoWars chanting, “Oink, oink, bang, bang,” and “The only good pig is a pig that’s dead.”
At the Austin, Texas, rally, Daniels carried his firearm, which is legal in the state. He is a founding member of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club and Guerrilla Mainframe, groups that promote open carry, Second Amendment rights, weapons training and community service. Shortly thereafter, the government began tracking Daniels.
The agency cited Facebook posts where Daniels expressed admiration for Micah Johnson, who killed four Dallas police officers in July 2016. Officers from the Joint Terrorism Task Force interrogated Daniels’ friends and their family members. Finally, after Daniels visited Detroit for a firearm training event, the FBI burst into his home and arrested him in front of his 15-year-old son.
So what did the government black-extremist hunters charge Daniels with? Terrorism? Was he planning a massacre? Was Daniels about to jump-start the long-awaited race war?
According to a court transcript (pdf), Daniels was arrested because he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge in 2007. Daniels’ conviction prohibited him from owning a firearm.
In fact, the only evidence that the FBI offered for Daniels being the subject of 25 months of federal surveillance was his anti-police rhetoric on social media and a few chants at rallies. In 25 months of FBI monitoring, Daniels had not engaged in a single act of violence against an officer or another human being. When the judge asked Keighley if Daniels resisted arrest, the agent replied that Daniels hadn’t. Keighley admitted to the judge that Daniels had never said he wanted to harm a police officer or stated that he planned on doing so.
But here’s where the term “black identity extremist” and the Race Paper meet.
In 2008, the FBI introduced a new class of investigations called “assessments” (pdf). Under this policy, the federal government can investigate anyone as long as they fall under the category of someone thought to be a threat to domestic security. With assessments, a person can be surveilled even if there is no “factual predicate” (evidence that the person intends to commit a crime).
See how it works? The FBI created a class of devious black terrorists, made up a scary narrative and empowered themselves with the right to investigate anyone who fit the description. Christopher Daniels was a threat because he is a black man with a gun and sometimes calls cops bad names.
This is your black identity extremist.
On Monday, COR and CCR filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (pdf) demanding the release of the blacked-out memo.
“Black and brown activists and the public in general should not be left to speculate as to why DHS prepared a document called the ‘Race Paper,’ circulated multiple versions of it, and called for in-person meetings to discuss its contents, but now fights to keep every word from seeing the light of day,” said Omar Farah, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “But given the long-standing and unconstitutional pattern of state surveillance of Black-led political movements, it bears repeating that [the Freedom of Information Act] is about transparency, not protecting government agencies from embarrassment.”
“Black communities know all too well how poisonous this kind of surveillance and intimidation is for social justice movements,” said Rashad Robinson, the executive director of Color of Change. Robinson added:
During the civil rights era, agents with the FBI’s COINTELPRO program vigorously sought to discredit and destroy Black leaders and movements while they did nothing to address the injustices our communities were protesting. We can’t allow the FBI to essentially operationalize COINTELPRO for the twenty-first century without a fight. Up until recently, we’ve known very little about the government’s surveillance of our communities. But by forcing the disclosure of more information about these surveillance efforts, including our demand today for the full and unredacted “Race Paper,” we can better understand these attacks on Black activism and fight to prevent a new generation of Black activists from demonization, incarceration, intimidation and punishment.
So what, exactly, is the Race Paper? Here’s my hypothesis:
Maybe it’s a compilation of surveillance that will be used to blackmail leaders in the Movement for Black Lives like the FBI’s effort to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. and leave “the Negroes ... without a national leader of sufficiently compelling personality to steer them in the proper direction.” Perhaps it is a 21st-century version of COINTELPRO’s goal to “prevent the rise of a black messiah.” It might simply be the FBI bragging about how they continue to sow discord, as they did when they bragged about their efforts to destroy the Black Panther Party with “shootings, beatings and a high degree of unrest.”
While these may sound like conspiracy theories, they are all verifiable documents from FBI correspondence. This is what they do. Whatever the Race Paper reveals, you can be sure it won’t be anything new.
They’re rooting out anybody black.